Advertising in the Times of Plague: Szymon Gutkowski, DDB Warsaw

Stay ahead of your clients’ needs and you will be fine. In a crisis this is even more true.

DDB Worldwide Inc.
Marketing/Creative Services
New York, United States
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Szymon Gutkowski
Managing Director - Partner DDB Warsaw

What are you telling your staff about the crisis?

We openly share views, and we tell the truth. In DDB Warsaw we have weekly video company meetings for the whole agency team now. Everyone reads a lot about the situation. Facebook servers are faced with unprecedented traffic, so openness is the only way forward. We share fresh market and research data, even if it is not encouraging. In the adverting industry there is one key business principle: focus on your clients’business. Stay ahead of your clients’ needs and you will be fine. In a crisis this is even more true. 


How are you helping your clients during this period? 

We saw this coming, so we were ready with the tools and procedures of working from home in advance. In February we started preparing the report “Advertising in the Times of Plague” so when it became a business issue in Poland where ready to share it - first for our clients, and soon after we made it public. The reports focuses on actionable insights. In times like these, you need to think, not only about your own company, but about the economy as a whole. The economy is an ecosystem. If everyone else is going down, you are also going to be affected. In a crisis of this magnitude, cooperation makes more sense than competition.  That is why we made our observations and conclusions public. In parallel we prepared personalized strategy recommendations for all our clients: what to change, what to add and why. Together with Porsche we have immediately introduced an influencer and social media campaign “We know it’s tempting, but stay at home”


We have also changed our approach to video production in favor of more postproduction and animation, as well as smart production at home. We have great creative results working in this way. For example spots for T-Mobile:



We believe that our job is to find ways to produce good and relevant advertising under any circumstances. We protect our health and lives by staying home, but we also protect the economy when we continue with business as usual in these unusual times.  


How are you bracing for the economic impact?

Our top management team is a good mixture of experience and new energy. Leading an advertising agency is like riding a roller coaster. You win clients you grow, you lose clients you shrink, and even best agencies sometimes loose clients. In a crisis nearly all agencies get smaller. Everyone who managed the agency through internet bubble burst in 1999 and Lehman brothers crisis in 2008 is better prepared for today. It’s important to keep people motivated and safe as much as possible. We can always look for new business - there will still be underserviced clients in crisis. Protect jobs by looking for creative ways of cutting costs: less hours, flexible pay, temporary leave. 


Are you involved in any public service campaigns concerning the crisis?

Not yet. But we were always active in social marketing, so we may well soon be.